A team of Royal Arch Masons, under the leadership of David Randerson, Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals, is presently visiting Masonic halls to perform the proposed enhancement of the exaltation ceremony to seek feedback and suggested adjustments from companions of chapters. The first such demonstration was performed at Poulton Masonic Hall and further performances are scheduled at Cleveleys Masonic Hall on Friday 22 May and at Blackpool Masonic Hall on Wednesday 3 June. Both demonstrations will commence at 7.30pm and those companions wishing to attend are invited to dress casually.
The team in no way intends to dictate an adoption of all or any part of the suggested changes, but offers possible modifications for companions to consider, review and assess, inviting observations, comments and suggestions that may be included for further improvement. If change was readily embraced by Freemasons, it is doubtful that the words ‘enhanced exaltation ceremony’ would ever have been combined together. By nature, humans and their environment constantly adjust and most of us accept this concept. However, when it comes to Freemasonry, why is it so difficult for so many to consider or accept that things cannot remain the same indefinitely?
‘That’s not the way we do it.’ ‘We have always done it this way.’ ‘This is how it has always been done in our chapter.’ These are some of the most common phrases heard when trying to implement some form of change or new initiative and after years of hearing them, many companions can become frustrated. However, there are ways to encourage inflexible companions to go along with the more radicle ones. Lodges or chapters do not generally change just because their members feel it may be a good idea. Changes are normally brought about as a result of internal or external factors, or both, that threaten their very existence. Such reactive changes may be deemed necessary.
Declining memberships of the majority of organisations, including Freemasonry, have ultimately resulted in reactive change, whether it be to turn to digital messaging via email to reduce overall administrative costs or amalgamation of lodges to ensure a viable membership. Such reactive changes, although considered unpleasant by many, have generally been seen as necessities and were therefore reluctantly embraced. So why do so many Freemasons have an understanding of such requirements but will have little to do with changing our rituals or introducing new elements? Sometimes such small changes appear to be herculean.
Freemasons, and to a degree the senior members of lodges and chapters, have to understand why there is a requirement for change. The excessive expense of posted summonses and communications was clearly explained. Now we need to follow that principle and explain the reasons for change, make it widespread knowledge that many of the members are demanding more and make it known that there is criticism of some of our current practices and above all, keep the need for change a main focus. Discuss them and talk about it freely. Once members understand the issues, the more likely it is that they will accept changes and be more welcoming of them.
When electing to implement a change, involve the members and make them, even in a small way, part of the decision making process. If the senior members make up 10% of your lodge or chapter and you only take their views into consideration, you are missing out on 90% of ideas. You never know, one idea from one junior member could be the $1,000,000 idea! No matter what the suggestions are or how outlandish they may appear, don’t belittle any ideas that come from your members. Even if you don’t take all of them forward, the implementation of change will have been easier to launch if you seek input from everyone, as they will have felt involved.
It is this philosophy that has guided the proposed changes to the exaltation ceremony in Royal Arch Masonry. The need for change was suggested by companions who felt disillusioned about aspects of the Royal Arch; they were confused and felt ill-at-ease with its relevance. They did not understand how it related to their Craft Masonry. And it was at the starting point that much of the confusion first arose. The exaltation ceremony did not adequately convey the relevance of Royal Arch Masonry and consequently, candidates could not feel fully engaged in the principles or aims of the chapter. Excluded from understanding, companions will quickly lose interest and become disillusioned and may cease to attend or subscribe.
The proposed enhanced exaltation ceremony is an attempt to arrest this deficiency and the team has been assembled to demonstrate the proposed changes and additions and invite feedback from companions to review and comment on, inviting suggestions that could be adopted for further improvement. The demonstrations are an ideal opportunity for each companion to express their concerns and offer constructive suggestions for the good of Royal Arch Masonry. Make sure that your views are heard.